תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

Springs. How will you stand before the two score and four emperors of Han that you will meet there? Retire, you old rebel! Go tell your rebellious companions to come and fight one battle with me that shall decide the victory."

Fierce wrath filled the old man's breast. With one despairing cry he fell to the earth dead.

This exploit of Kung-ming's has been lauded in verse :

In west Ts'in, when the armies met in the field,
He, the bold one, singly faced a myriad warriors,
And with a simple weapon, just his cruel tongue,
He did to death an old and wicked man.

After Wang Lang had fallen, Kʻung-ming waved the fan toward Ts'ao Chên and said, “As for you, I leave you alone for this occasion. Go and get your army in order for to-morrow's battle.

The chariot turned and left the ground; both armies retired for that day. To Ts'ao Chên fell the melancholy duty of rendering the last services to the aged counsellor and setting his coffin on its journey to Ch'angan.

Then said the general Kuo Huai, "Chuko Liang will certainly think the army occupied with mourning and make a night attack. Let us anticipate him and set out an ambush about our camp. Let two bodies of our men be hidden outside and two others take the occasion to raid the camp of the enemy."

“I thought of such a scheme myself," said Ts'ao Chên. “It exactly suits my plans.

So the orders were given; the two leaders of the van were to take a legion each, get away by the rear of the mountain and look out for the passing of the men of Shu. When they had gone by, these two were to make for their camp. They were only to attempt a raid if the men of Shu had left. Then the Commander-in-chief arranged with his second each to lead a force and hide outside the camp. A few men only were to be left within to make a fire if the enemy were seen to be coming. And each captain set about his necessary preprations.

When K‘ung-ming reached his tent he called to him Chao Yün and Wei Yen, and said to them, "You two are to make a night attack."

"Ts'ao Chên is a man of experience and will be on the lookout,” ventured Wei Yen.

“But that is just what I want; I want him to know we shall attack to-night. He will then put some men in hiding in rear of Ch'ishan, who will make for our camp as soon as they see us pass toward theirs. I am sending you to let yourselves be seen passing the hill, but you are to camp behind it and at a distance. When the men of Wei attack this camp you will

see a signal. Then Wei Yen will hold the approach to the hill, and Chao Yün will make his way back in fighting order. He will meet the men of Wei returning and will let them pass on to you. You will attack. The enemy will assuredly fall to fighting among themselves, and we shall conquer."

These two having gone away to carry out their portions of the plan, he next called up Kuan Hsing and Chang Pao: “You are to take each a legion and hide in the high road to the mountain. When the men of Wei come, let them pass and then march along the road they came by to the camp they have just left."

These two having left, the plan concluded with placing four bodies of men in ambush about the camp.

Within the camp the tents and shelters were left standing as if the camp was occupied, while wood and straw were heaped up ready to give the signal. This done, K‘ung-ming and his officers retired to the rear of the camp to watch proceedings.

On the side of Wei the two van-leaders, Ts'ao Tsun and Chu Tsan, left at dusk and hastened toward the camp of Shu. About the second watch they saw men busily moving about in front of the hill.

Ts'ao Tsun thought to himself, “Commander Kuo Huai is an excellent strategist and of wonderful prevision.”

Then he hastened the march, and in the third watch reached the camp of Shu. He at once dashed into the enclosure, but only to find it totally deserted. Not a man was visible. At once he knew he had stumbled into a trap, and began to withdraw. Then the flames sprang up. Chu Tsan arrived 1eady to fight, and the two bodies of men, thrown into confusion, fought with each other till the two leaders met, when they found out they were fighting their own men.

As they were restoring order, on came the four bodies of men of Shu who had lain in ambush ready for them. The two leaders, with a handful of those nearest to them, ran away to get to the high road. But before long the rolling drums announced another body of their enemy, and their flight was stopped by Chao Yün.

"Whither go ye, O rebel leaders ?” cried he. “Stop, for here is death.”

But the two leaders of Wei still fled. Then came up a force led by Wei Yen and completed the defeat. The men of Wei were wholly beaten and ran away to their own camp. But the guard left in the camp thought they were the enemy come to raid, so they lit the fires, and at this signal Ts'ao Chên rushed up from one side and Kuo Huai from the other, and a fierce fight with their own men began.

While this was going on, three cohorts of the men of Shu arrived from three points, and a great and confused battle began. The men of Wei were driven off and chased for ten li.

In the fight Wei lost many leaders, and K‘ung-ming gained a great success. Ts'ao Chên and Kuo Huai got together their beaten men and went back to their own camp.

When they discussed the fight, Ts'ao Chên said, “The enemy are too strong for us. Have you any plan to drive them

away?

Replied Kuo Huai, “Our defeat is one of the ordinary events of war. Let us not be cast down. I have a plan to suggest that will disorder them so that one body cannot help the other and they will all be compelled to flee.'

Wei leaders fail and sadly send

To pray barbarians help to lend. The plan will be unfolded in the next chapter.

CHAPTER VIC.

CHUKO SMITES THE BARBARIANS IN A SNOWSTORM;

SSUMA QUICKLY CAPTURES MÊNG TA. The scheme by which Kuo Huai proposed to overcome the men of Shu he laid before his colleague, saying, “The Ch‘iang (Tangut) tribes have paid tribute regularly since the days of the Founder of our House. The Emperor Wên (220-227) regarded them with favour. Now let us hold such points of vantage as we may while we send secret emissaries to engage their help in exchange for kindly treatment. We may get them to attack Shu and engage their attention while we gather a large army to smite them at another place. Thus attacking, , how can we help gaining a great victory?"

A messenger was sent forthwith bearing letters to the barbarians.

The prince of the western Ch‘iang was named Ch'êlichi. He had rendered yearly tribute since the days of Ts'ao Tsao. He had two ministers, one for civil the other for military affairs, named, respectively, Yatan and Yüehchi. The former was termed Prime Minister and the latter Chief Leader.

The letter was accompanied by presents of gold and pearls, and when the messenger arrived he first sought Yatan, to whom he gave gifts and whose help he begged. Thus he gained an interview with the prince, to whom he presented the letter and the gifts. The prince accepted both and called his counsellors to consider the letter.

Yatan said, “We have had regular intercourse with the Wei country. Now that Ts'ao Chên asks our aid and promises an alliance we ought to accede to his request."

The prince agreed that it was so, and he ordered his two chief ministers to raise an army of twenty-five legions of trained soldiers, archers and crossbowmen, spearmen and swordsmen, men who flung caltrops and men who hurled hammers. Beside these various weapons the barbarians used chariots covered with iron plates nailed on. They prepared much grain and fodder and many spare weapons, all of which they loaded upon these iron-clad chariots. The chariots were drawn by camels or teams of horses. The carts or chariots were known as iron chariots.

The two leaders took leave of their prince and went straightway to Hsip'ing Pass. The officer in command, Han Chên, at once sent intelligence to K‘ung-ming, who asked who

would go to attack the Ch'iang. Kuan Hsiang and Chang Pao said they would go.

Then Kʻung-ming said, “You shall be sent; but as you are ignorant of the road and the people, Ma Tai shall accompany you.”

To Ma Tai he said, “You know the disposition of the Ch'iang from your long residence there; you shall go as guide."

They chose out five legions of veterans for the expedition. When they had marched many days and drew near their enemy, Kuan Hsing went in advance with a few horsemen and got first sight of them from a hill. They were marching, the long line of iron chariots one behind another in close order. Then they halted and camped, their weapons piled all along the line of chariots like the ramparts of a moated city. Kuan studied them for a long time quite at a loss to think how to overcome them. He came back to camp and consulted with his two colleagues.

Ma Tai said, “We will see to-morrow what they will do when we make our array, and discuss our plans when we know more.

So the next day they drew up their army in three divisions, Kuan Hsing's division being in the centre. Thus they advanced.

The enemy also drew up in battle order. Their military chief, Yüehchi, had an iron mace in his hand and a carven bow hung at his waist. He rode forward on a curvetting steed boldly enough. Kuan Hsing gave the order for all three divisions to go forward. Then the enemy's ranks opened in the centre and out rolled the iron chariots like a great wave. At the same time the barbarians shot arrows and bolts, and the men of Shu could not stand against them.

The wing divisions retired, and the Ch‘iang were thus enabled to surround the centre. In spite of every effort, Kuan could not get free, for the iron chariots were like a city wall and no opening could be found. The men of Shu were absolutely helpless, and Kuan Hsing made for the mountains in hope of finding a road through.

As it grew dark a Ch‘iang leader with a black flag approached, his men like a swarm of wasps about him. Presently Kuan made out the iron mace of Yüehchi, who cried out to him, “Youthful captain, flee not; I am the Chief Leader of the

army.”

But Kuan Hsing only hastened forward, plying his whip to urge his steed. Then he suddenly came on a deep gully, and there seemed nothing but to turn and fight. But Kuan Hsing's courage turned cold at the sight of Yüehchi, and he leaped into the gully. Yüehchi come close and struck at him with the mace. Kuan avoided the blow but it fell upon his steed and knocked him over into water. Kuan went into the water too.

« הקודםהמשך »